Survivors unlikely after jet crashes in Pakistan
Published Friday, April 20, 2012 4:47PM EDT
The Pakistani government said there appeared to be no survivors in a passenger jet crash near Islamabad Friday as emergency crews searched the wreckage in a muddy wheat field.
The Boeing 737-200, carrying 118 passengers and nine crew members, crashed near the Benazir Bhutto International Airport as it attempted to land in a severe thunderstorm.
The Bhoja Air jet was travelling from the country's largest city of Karachi to Islamabad, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhar told reporters.
Distraught relatives of those aboard the plane rushed to the airports in both cities, hoping to get any information about their loved ones.
Officials said there is little chance anyone survived the crash, but emergency workers continued to search the wreckage for any signs of life using flashlights.
TV footage showed what looked like an engine and a wing against the wall of a small building.
Sheets were bought in from a nearby village to cover the dead.
"Officials are saying that bad weather is likely to blame," CTV South Asia Bureau Chief Janis Mackey Frayer told CTV News Channel, adding there is no suggestion from officials that terrorism was involved in any way.
She said that air traffic controllers had given the plane clearance to land. It's unclear what went wrong in the final few minutes of the flight.
"Initial pictures of the scene are, of course, quite devastating and all hospitals in the area have been put on alert," she said.
"The aircraft was in good shape. This came from God," Bhoja Air administrative director Javed Ishaq told reporters at the airport in Karachi. He was jeered by the passengers' relatives who came to the airport.
"My brother's wife was on board this flight," Naveed Khan told The Associated Press. "We pray for the departed souls. What else can we do now?"
The Pakistani president and the prime minister have already both called for an immediate inquiry into the crash, Mackey Frayer said.
The airline, Bhoja Air, is a relatively new airline based in Karachi, Mackey Frayer said. This is thought to be the airline's first major accident.
The last major plane crash in Pakistan occurred in July 2010 when an Airbus A321 aircraft operated by Airblue crashed near Islamabad, killing all 152 people on board. It was Pakistan's worst ever airline disaster.
With reports from The Associated Press